Han Bu Chu sighed deeply.
[This matter isn't just a joke… it's a gargantuan joke that involves the lives of two billion people across two nations. Moreover, this joke foretells the upcoming bloody events...]
Han Bu Chu pondered over the things Diwu Qing Rou had told him. He was terrified to realize, [From this point of view… Diwu Qing Rou hadn't sent the troops to frontline on his own will. He was forced to do so by King of Hell Chu.]
[And, King of Hell Chu didn't intend to force him. But surprisingly, his actions achieved such a remarkable consequence. It's worthy of being proud of…]
"King of Hell Chu used his tricks to lead the two nations to a point where the war was unavoidable. This war is a result of his actions. So, he should pay the price for it, correct?" Diwu Qing Rou said with a smile.
Han Bu Chu understood the meaning behind Diwu Qing Rou's words, "Prime Minister, are you talking about the five-thousand kilometers long pursuit of King of Hell Chu?"
"Yes…." Diwu Qing Rou nodded his head in acknowledgement, "King of Hell Chu was struck by my 'Destroying Soul and Breaking Heart Palm'. But, he was still able to flee for hundreds of kilometers within a single day. It was a terrible situation since he was likely to escape back to his nation.
"So, on one hand I continued the hunt for King of Hell Chu… while on the other hand, I started to make contingency plans… in case King of Hell Chu managed to escape.
"So, I ordered the nine army reinforcement units to chance directions… and deviated them by four-hundred kilometers from their original routes.
"On the surface… it seems like their ultimate goal is to move towards the main battlefield. But in reality… I can issue an order as soon as the situation changes. Then, our three army divisions will immediately attack the Heaven Splitting Mountain Pass.
"Of course, this must have a prerequisite. The prerequisite for this situation is the enemy General who is in-charge of guarding the Heaven Splitting Mountain Pass… he must come out to fight," Diwu Qing Rou spoke slowly.
"I see… So, the Prime Minister had sent those five-hundred-thousand people to their deaths..." Han Bu Chu sucked in a mouthful of cold air.
"I never intended Bai Chang Tian and his five-hundred-thousand men to come back alive. It's the same… whether they die here… or in the battlefield," Diwu Qing Rou said in a heavy tone. He didn't seem to hide his notion from Han Bu Chu. "But, sending five-hundred-thousand soldiers isn't enough to make the enemy send their troops towards the Heaven Splitting Mountain Pass. It's necessary to establish another premise to make that happen… and that is that King of Hell Chu should hold importance in Tie Bu Tian's heart."
[King of Hell Chu should hold importance in Tie Bu Tian's heart?]
Han Bu Chu was startled. Diwu Qing Rou had spoken the same thing twice. But why?
"There are rumors that Tie Bu Tian has led his imperial expedition to the battlefront. And, he's at the frontline at present," Diwu Qing Rou said insipidly.
Han Bu Chu wanted to ask, [So what?] However, he didn't dare to ask.
"Tie Bu Tian's imperial expedition to the frontline will work in favor of boosting the morale of his soldiers. But, this also has a huge drawback - Tie Bu Tian will be putting himself in danger. He'll become the center of the enemy's attacks. Moreover, it'll be easy for our army to attack him. So, the issue of his safety and security must've become a serious matter for Tie Long Chang. In fact, he must be extremely worried about it.
"There's only one way for Tie Long Cheng to ensure Tie Bu Tian's safety while ensuring that he stays around and boosts the morale of the troops… And that… is to send Tie Bu Tian to another frontline - the Heaven Splitting Mountain Pass! Tie Bu Tian will be safe there. It's not possible to break past that mountain pass even if we were to send millions of troops. So, it would be useless to try and capture Tie Bu Tian once he's there."
Diwu Qing Rou's words carried a strong self-confidence.
"Indeed…" Han Bu Chu agreed.
"So… I came to the conclusion that Emperor Tie Bu Tian is already in Heaven Splitting Mountain Pass." Diwu Qing Rou narrowed his eyes as a sharp cold-light flashed through them.
Diwu Qing Rou had made a slight mistake in his calculations - Tie Long Cheng hadn't asked Tie Bu Tian to go to the Heaven Splitting Mountain Pass. Instead, Tie Bu Tian had himself demanded to go there. But, that didn't have any effect on Diwu Qing Rou's plan. It was akin to taking a different route to reach the same destination.
Han Bu Chu would've been worthless if he still hadn't understood the gist of the plan. He smiled and said, "Tie Bu Tian will surely send his troops to help King of Hell Chu if he holds an important place in Tie Bu Tian's heart. He only needs to find out that King of Hell Chu has fled to the vicinity of the Heaven Splitting Mountain Pass."
"Yes..." Diwu Qing Rou nodded.
"But… Tie Bu Tian mustn't get anxious, and he mustn't get swayed by personal feelings while making a decision. Therefore, he must need a good reason to send his troops for King of Hell Chu's rescue." Han Bu Chu said, "So, that's why Lord Prime Minister sent Bai Chang Tian and his men to their deaths! This would give Tie Bu Tian a good reason to dispatch his troops out of the mountain pass. Moreover, he'd decide to push forward after he had defeated them. No one will dare to say anything against him under the pretext of his glorious victory... In addition, there are no army units of ours in the neighborhood. "
"That's right," Diwu Qing Rou replied with a smile.
"The letter you sent to King Level Expert Jing contains the message to burn the mountain down… whenever necessary. So, it isn't only to burn King of Hell Chu to death… but also to disclose the information to Tie Bu Tian — who would be present nearby. He would realize that the Golden Horse Riders Department has come to chase King of Hell Chu."
"Therefore, Tie Bu Tian will arrive with his soldiers to save King of Hell Chu. But… he won't be able to disclose this information to anyone else since he'd be giving priority to King of Hell Chu's safety over that of the entire Iron Cloud Nation's. So, he'll have to come in-person to oversee the entire operation."
Han Bu Chu opened his mouth in shock, "So, the original plan of Lord Prime Minister is to lure Tie Bu Tian under the pretext of saving King of Hell Chu. Then, we can change the direction of our three military forces to interfere at any time - to deliver the frontal assault… or to sever Tie Bu Tian's escape route… or to pursue and attack Tie Bu Tian's forces. Then, it'll become possible to capture the Heaven Splitting Mountain Pass in one fell swoop. In addition, King Level Expert Jing and his men would be present there since they were chasing King of Hell Chu. So, they may even kill Tie Bu Tian at a stroke. In that case, the result of the war will be decided in a day."
Han Bu Chu was shocked.
He could never have imagined that Diwu Qing Rou would lay out such a detailed plan in advance.
"Correct! Therefore, I had strictly ordered our three armies to stay within the range of seven-hundred-and-fifty kilometers. Tie Bu Tian will become vigilant if they go any closer. And… they won't be able to catch-up if they go any farther," Diwu Qing Rou said.
"I think seven-hundred-and-fifty kilometers is quite far. It'll take three days for the troops to reach there on foot. Isn't it too far?" Han Bu Chu asked in an anxious manner.
"It's not far. Jing Meng Hun will exert all his strength to block King of Hell Chu once the mountain is set ablaze. And, Tie Bu Tian will have to wait until he discovers King of Hell Chu's whereabouts. This entire process will take at least one night's time.
"We'll mobilize our cavalries during the night. Our main forces will follow closely on foot. These elite cavalry soldiers will be able to cover four-hundred kilometers during the night. By that time… Tie Bu Tian will have found King of Hell Chu… or his corpse… and will be retracing his steps. This will need time as it's impossible for an army to just lock, stock and barrel like a group of ducks. They can't make a round trip without any delay... this will give us a window of around two-to-three hours.
"The experts gathered by Jing Meng Hun will engage Tie Bu Tian's army. They may fail to assassinate Tie Bu Tian. But, they can at least bring about a delay of three hours. That should be enough.
"Meanwhile… our cavalry soldiers will arrive within the range of one-hundred-and-fifty kilometers.
"So, we must strive for the time that will be needed to cover the distance of one-hundred-and-fifty kilometers." Diwu Qing Rou knocked his fingers against his thigh as he spoke, "Moreover, the three Generals who lead those three armies are gold, silver and jade ranked tiger-generals. I've especially chosen them for this task."
Han Bu Chu immediately guessed who they were.
These generals were Golden Tiger General Jin Nankai, Silver Tiger General Long Aoyu and Jade Tiger General Cheng Long. These three Generals were relatively young. The oldest among them was around forty-years-old. All three of them had origins in cavalry, and were particularly good at handling raids and ambush operations. They were daring and keen to take risks. Therefore, they'd even risk their lives to fulfill the mission.
Diwu Qing Rou had selected these three Generals to lead the armies since he had identified the drive in them.
Diwu Qing Rou would never use old and wise generals for this mission since they'd never take any steps without prior planning. However, this battle was going to be a lightning battle; even a blink of an eye could lead to the loss of an opportunity to succeed.
Therefore, if one continued to plan while an opportunity that needed prompt action stood right before one's eyes... failure would be ensured.
This mission required impulsive action.
The old and wise generals couldn't cover the crucial distance of one-hundred-and-fifty kilometers within the required timeframe; they couldn't reach there in time to fight. However, these three individuals would capture this opportunity even at the cost of the life of their cavalries.
Diwu Qing Rou had used his insights and speculations to come up with an elaborate plan to annex the Iron Cloud Nation at a single stroke.
Iron Cloud would perish in a single battle if these three Generals managed to seize this opportunity.
Suddenly, an invisible falcon arrived. Diwu Qing Rou smiled as he glanced at the new information. Then, he handed it over to Han Bu Chu.
Han Bu Chu took a look at it. Then, he patted his thigh and said, "Lord Prime Minister, your divine strategy is working… Things are happening as expected."
The information read - 'The Iron Cloud Army has advanced for three-hundred kilometers along the slanting valley after beating our five-hundred-thousand soldiers. At present, they are stationed outside the valley - close to Beyond the Heavens Sect Mountain Range.'
Diwu Qing Rou chuckled and said, "The key point lies in these two words 'slanting valley'. Its terrain is narrow and difficult to cross. The army must advance in a line in order to cross it. They will be congested, and won't be able to move a single step in case they are chased down or attacked. We'll be able to crush the entire army without making much effort."
Then, he raised his eyebrow and spoke in a sinister tone, "Tie Bu Tian, I sent five-hundred-thousand soldiers into the slanting valley… and made you defeat them. You ought to be feeling very elated, right? But, you mustn't take Diwu Qing Rou lightly. I deliberately sent my troops to lure you. You may have crushed my troops. But soon, my troops will chase you down and eliminate you - the Emperor of Iron Cloud Nation."
The sky had turned dark.
Tie Bu Tian was taking a nap in the main tent. Suddenly, someone began to clamor outside, "Fire! Fire!"
Then, a soldier came inside, "Reporting to the Emperor - the entire Beyond the Heavens Sect Mountain Range has caught fire."
"Beyond the Heavens Sect Mountain Range has caught fire?" Tie Bu Tian's heart started to beat fiercely. He sat up; his eyes revealed a dazzling radiance.
"Yes. Initially… only the main peak had caught fire. Thick smoke was rising from all directions. But, the strong winds spread the fire… and all the nine peaks got engulfed in a sea of flames. Moreover, the fire is flourishing; it is rapidly spreading in the surrounding regions," the scout reported respectfully.
"I see…" Tie Bu Tian's heart was beating wildly. He became dizzy as the blood rushed to his head.
[How did the Beyond the Heavens Sect Mountain Range catch fire all of a sudden? There's no doubt that someone has set it ablaze. But, why?]
Suddenly, Tie Bu Tian's body trembled, [Chu Yang is back!]
[This fire was surely started by the Golden Horse Riders Department. They must've come chasing Chu Yang… and would've lost track of him. But, they wouldn't have wanted him to escape. So, they must've set fire to the entire mountain in order to burn Chu Yang…]
[Even if they can't burn him to death… they can at least force him to come out. No one can stay hidden in a burning mountain.]
Suddenly, Tie Bu Tian stood up and started to walk away from the barracks. He couldn't wait any longer, and issued an order in a stern voice, "All men will come with me. Pass on my military order..."